Something to Teach: Respect

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Hello, friends!

This post is going to be a little different. I have been thinking about this for a while now, and decided to jump right in! What am I talking about? This post, and subsequent “Something to Teach” posts will highlight things to teach to your children, grandchildren, neighborhood kiddos, or even things to teach yourself or other adults.

The first one I will cover is respect. This is something I have tried very hard to instill in my children. Are they always respectful? Nope. They’re human, like me.

The one notable exception is my ex-husband, who they call by his first name. Yes, he is all the kiddos’ biological father. However, when someone shows absolutely no respect for you, it is nearly impossible to have respect for that person; no matter how many times he demanded it, especially with abuse.

It is very hard to give respect when it is not extended to you. However, we do try. The golden rule is one of the tools I used to help with this virtue. It also helps with empathy.

Do you have trouble with respect? Maybe you grew up with the maxim to “respect your elders,” and now bristle at the thought of respect. Maybe you think someone should show you respect first? What’s your take on all this? Leave your response for me below in the comments! Have a great day!

Stress Out!!!

He looks like I feel today!
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I probably should not write while I am so stressed out and angry. I almost want to sit down and cry! Why, you ask? Well…there are several reasons. First, and this I tell you not for pity, but in truth…we are in a serious financial crisis. I need to call our mortgage company and try to work something out. Life is not looking great for us.

Other than that, there’s Child #3, who has so many mental health problems and eight mental diagnoses, that they can’t even see straight. And Heaven forbid we delay or forget the medication. Yes. The police will be called and our lives will be in danger. We don’t forget! It’s not an option.

Adding to the stress is the lovely neighbors that we have. I don’t even want to go into it, except to say that they continue to plague us. Why? I have know idea, but there is never an excuse to call any person a “whore,” which she did. Seriously? Ummmm…that child has been raped more than once, but as for being a whore? Nope. Doesn’t fit! I’m just so done. I can and do offer up their antics, but it’s still so disheartening. We are nice, Christian people. What, exactly, is their problem? Maybe it wouldn’t be such a horrible thing if we have to leave.

I am trying not to stew over things. I know God has this; He always does. It’s just, my anxiety and depression are so ratcheted up that sometimes I can’t see the flowers for the weeds!

Are you having a stressful time? Maybe school or work is getting to you? Please share in the comments below so I don’t feel so alone out here.

Want to help? Consider buying my children’s book “The Adventures of Snowball the Semi-Mighty Dog” on Amazon. It’s available in paperback or e-book. Here is the link: then just type “The Adventures of Snowball the Semi-Mighty Dog” in the search bar and it will bring it right up!

Thanks and God bless!

Au Gratin Potatoes – The Harbinger of Autumn


Ah…Autumn! It is finally starting to cool down here in the Midwest. One sure sign of that is the change in food in our house. Soups, stews, and of course, au gratin potatoes.

What are au gratin potatoes? Where do they come from? Au gratin potatoes are an intoxicating blend of cheese and potatoes, baked to a crispy sheen of deliciousness. They are believed to have originated in France and are generally made with some sort of dairy, either cream, cheese, or both. Recipes for au gratin potatoes have been around in the US for over 130 years.

My recipe calls for potatoes, sharp cheddar, my favorite cheese powder, and granulated onion. Here is what you need:

Your favorite gluten-free cooking spray

7 – 8 medium sized russet potatoes, peeled and sliced thinly

6 Tbsp. cheddar cheese powder, separated – available from one of my favorite stores

1 lb. sharp cheddar cheese, separated

1 Tbsp. granulated onion

Pre-heat oven to 350° F. Spray a 9″ x 13″ pan with your favorite gluten-free non-stick cooking spray. Layer 1/3 of your prepared potatoes on the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle 2 Tbsp. of your cheese powder over said potatoes. Layer on 1/3 of your cheese. Repeat. Sprinkle granulated onion over the top. Add your third layer of potatoes, cheese powder, and cheese on top.

Bake for 40 minutes. Cover with a piece of aluminum foil and bake an extra 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let set for 10 minutes or so to prevent burning mouths! Enjoy!

Most Embarrassing Moments

Oh noooooooo!
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Ok. We’ve all had them. Some of them are mortifying. Others we feel sure we will never recover from. Some of them make us smile (especially if it happened to someone else or it’s been many years!) Some of them just make us shake our heads.

I am going to share two of my very own embarrassing moments. Please let me know in the comments below about your embarrassing moments so I don’t feel so alone about mine! Alright. Here goes:

Embarrassing Moment #1

My kiddos and I were needing to attend Saturday Mass on the way home from orchestra practice, since Sunday was to be the concert. Since the orchestra and concert venues were about 1.5 to 2 hours away from home there was no way we could attend our lovely little Church. So, we decided to visit a rather new Roman Catholic Church, St. Raphael’s.

We knew no one here, and the atmosphere was quite somber. It was about ten minutes before Mass started and my phone started to ring. Yes, I had forgotten to turn the ringer off! Oops! The worst part was the ring tone, which said “Let me out, I’m stuck in your pocket!” I quickly turned the phone off and slunk down in my seat as everyone in the assembly looked at me like I had a child stuffed somewhere on my person!

Embarrassing Moment #2

Back in the earlier days of my marriage, my ex-husband and I attended his company Christmas party. This was held at a fancy place near Chicago. He picked me up at the bank where I worked and I changed in the car. I had worn a pink jersey knit dress to work and wanted something a bit more upscale for the evening party. I slid my pants up under it and switched the dress for the top, covering as I went.

We got to the party and were greeted by a hostess. She must have told me the bathroom was upstairs to the right at least three times. I was like, “I don’t have to go, so what’s her problem?” We entered the dining room and took our places at one of the tables. It was then that I looked down to see my white slip sticking out from under my black tunic! Oh my gosh! Why didn’t my ex say anything? He was completely oblivious and I was mortified. I carefully tucked the offending slip into my pants under the cover of the table and excused myself to the ladies room. There I took off the slip I had worn to work under my pink dress and stuffed it in my purse. I’m not sure I ever forgave him for that!

So, what are your most embarrassing moments? Care to share? Pretty please?

Being a Good Neighbor

If you have great neighbors, cherish them!
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If you have been reading my blog for a while, you may know that I have had trouble with my neighbors to the south. They have screamed at all of us (my children included,) raised at least two vicious dogs (the first of which killed the bloodhound of the neighbor next to them and was banished from the village,) stolen vegetables from my garden, threatened to call the police, reported garbage sitting at the curb (for garbage pick-up,) and generally made life miserable.

Today, my two older children noticed the woman taking pictures of my yard. Sigh…undoubtedly this will be followed by a notice from the village people regarding something about my yard that they find offensive. Really? I mean, there’s the couch that they threw out almost two months ago that has been sitting outside their gate. Have I reported it? No. Of course not. You don’t do that. My yard is neat, save for the bright orange flags and spray paint that the telephone company installed for the benefit of the road construction crew redoing our part of the road. So, what’s the problem?

The willing follower, Ducky (or his full name Dr. Donald Mallard!)
Queen Bee, Lulu.
“Why am I not sleeping?” Delilah

As a good neighbor, you try to overlook the mistakes your neighbors make, just in due course. You are not perfect either. We are definitely not. There is yelling. Yup. That happens when you have a special needs child who likes to use their words (at high volume!) However, I am tired of being attacked, and threatened. They have threatened to call the police on us because our tiny dogs got out. I told them to go ahead. I mean, who is threatened by three tiny dogs with a total poundage of 20 pounds? I was not the paragon of Christian virtue that day!

It’s not like I’m afraid of the police. In fact, with child #3’s mental health struggles, we are quite familiar with our village police department. They, too, are familiar with our neighbors (and not because of us! Our other neighbors don’t get along with them either.) The law does their best and I’m sure, would be so happy to have them move on. Yeah. Me too.

It all makes me so sad. I have tried to be a good neighbor. After they first moved in, I took a plate of cookies over with my children. All I could hear was screaming and swearing when I knocked on the door. We left. It hasn’t gotten better. Sad.

Sometimes even chocolate isn’t enough!
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Feeding Jesus – The Food Pantry

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In America, we have food pantries to help to feed the poor. What is available? Well, it depends on what people donate. Some also depends on what the people in charge of the pantry buy as staples. So, as a former food pantry volunteer and partaker, I have some suggestions:

  1. Donate what you like to eat. O.k. Do you like to eat canned beats? No? Well, then don’t donate them. Just because someone is poor, it does not mean they have poor taste in food.
  2. Donate non-food items. This is extremely important as while we can get food with our food stamps, we cannot get personal care items like deodorant, shampoo, lady products, laundry detergent, hand soap, body wash, or soap, etc. Please consider this, as it makes life extremely challenging to go to an interview without being able to shave. What kind of job will you be able to get if you don’t smell too fresh? Also, what about toothpaste, toothbrushes, dental floss, and multivitamins?
  3. Also, please be aware that many states charge a pink tax on women’s products, so that, in addition, to the exorbitant cost of tampons/pads, etc. there is also a quite hefty “luxury charge tax” which makes them even more unattainable for the poor. Also, condoms, which primarily get used for birth control and STD prevention, can also be used to protect a wound, since they are waterproof and highly stretchable. Bandages, guaze, and antibacterial ointment are also very helpful.
  4. Consider donating money, as then the people in charge of the food pantry can procure fresh produce and meat for the hungry. This may mean the difference between eating canned chicken and having a roast chicken for dinner. Which would you prefer?

So, please try to put yourself in the shoes of those in need. We don’t want your cast-offs or your three-years-past-date canned asparagus. And yes, when I volunteered at a local food pantry I saw the many-years-past-date items that were donated. It was really disheartening. Just figure if you would love to eat it, so would someone else! We are all human, after all. Some just have better monetary circumstances than others. Really, people, what would Jesus do?

Yummy Homemade Taquitos

Can’t wait to dig in!

Taquitos. Yummmmm. No, not the tiny store bought cardboard numbers that have more carbs than taste! I’m talking about the ones that I make from scratch (well, ok, I didn’t make the corn tortillas from scratch, but give me a break – I have a life!) in my kitchen with a child helper. They are awesome and I’m going to share them with you! You will need:

2 lbs. ground beef

1 Tbsp. dried minced onion (or a small onion finely diced if you have the time)

2 cups water

Enough taco seasoning for two lbs. of meat

6 cups of shredded sharp cheddar cheese

18 corn tortillas

Cooking spray

1/2 to 3/4 cup canola oil

Break up your two lbs. of ground beef into a pot with the water and dried onion. Cook over medium heat until meat is cooked through. Turn off the heat and drain the water (This has the added benefit of draining off a lot of that nasty fat!) Add the taco seasoning and let the flavors meld for about 15 minutes. While the beef and seasoning is melding, spray a 9″ x 13″ pan with your favorite cooking spray.

Stuffing the taquitos!

Preheat your oven to 350° F. Take each tortilla, one at a time and fill with meat mixture (not too full, as you want them to roll!) On top of the meat put in a good sprinkle of cheese. Roll the taquito and place it at the end of your greased 9″ x 13″ pan, using your assistant’s ultra clean hands to hold it in place. Continue with the remainder of the tortillas. We got 12 across the long way of the pan and then 6 in 2 rows the opposite way across the bottom.

My assistant, Child #4, helped with this step.

Drizzle the canola oil over the top to crisp up the tortillas. Sprinkle any extra meat and the rest of the cheese on the top of the taquitos. Bake for 30 minutes. Cheese should be melty and golden brown.

All rolled and drizzled.

Serve with your favorite salsa, guacamole, and/or sour cream. Yummmmmmm! Enjoy!

A Rare Treat – Corndogs

Yummy Homemade Corndogs!

When you think about gluten-free cooking, do you ever think about all the things you can’t eat? Me too. So, I set out to find what I can do about it. What can I do about it? I can find gluten-filled recipes and change them or I can make new ones. One of the recipes that my oldest makes from time to time (to the thrill of her three younger siblings!) is corndogs.

Ever been to a county fair and mourn the fact that you cannot partake in this fried treat? Well, fret no more! Here is what you will need:

18, gluten-free, beef hot dogs

2 cups white rice flour

2 cups corn flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 cup sugar

1 tsp. salt

2 eggs

1 3/4 cup WHOLE milk

canola oil for frying

Mix rice and corn flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Add eggs and whole milk. Stir until well combined. Pour canola oil in a large, deep frying pan and heat it until a bit of batter sizzles when it is dropped in the pan. Prepare a plate to set the corndogs on, once they are cooked, by lining a large plate with 4 – 5 layers of paper towel. Dry off the hot dogs completely. Dip hot dogs in batter on a fork and tap off extra. Gently drop coated dog into the hot oil. Repeat with 3 other hot dogs, turning as they cook to make sure every side is evenly golden brown. Remove from the hot oil with a metal tongs, first allowing the oil to drip off some before setting the dog on your prepared plate. Repeat with the remaining dogs until they are all done. Serve with your favorite toppings and enjoy!